Minnesota NOW Press Release, October 13, 2010
MINNESOTA NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN (NOW) SUPPORTS RE-INTRODUCTION OF SAFE SCHOOLS FOR ALL BILL, DENOUNCES REP. EMMER’S DISMISSAL OF GAY TEEN SUICIDE EPIDEMIC
All Minnesotans, regardless of party affiliation, are shocked by the recent spike in gay teen suicides across the nation. Here at home, 15-year-old Anoka resident Justin Aaberg took his own life in July, a desperate act his mother believes was motivated by unchecked bullying at her son’s school. Minnesota NOW, as a partner in the Safe Schools for All Coalition, hopes that renewed attention to this public health emergency will finally increase momentum for anti-bullying legislation that could do so much to protect vulnerable adolescents.
But that won’t happen if Tom Emmer is elected Governor, warns Shannon Drury, State President of Minnesota NOW.
When Rep. Emmer was asked by a Fox 9 debate moderator on October 9 how he’d respond to this crisis, Emmer said he does not support this kind of legislation. Rep. Emmer said, “we should all be able to have [our] point of view and respect each other but we don’t need more laws trying to get in between people.”
With this statement, Emmer implied that bullies are entitled to their so-called “point of view,” even as they harass and intimidate their peers quite literally to death. “Sexism and racism are also points of view,” says Drury. “Would Governor Emmer fail to enforce other Minnesota civil rights statutes as well?”
Minnesota NOW, the Safe Schools for All Coalition, and a bipartisan majority in the State Legislature supported the Safe Schools for All Bill that was vetoed by Governor Tim Pawlenty in May 2009. Today, State Senators Scott Dibble and Jim Davnie (both DFL-Minneapolis) announced plans to re-introduce this bill in the upcoming special session. Minnesota NOW’s statewide membership applauds the Senators for moving this important bill forward.
Rep. Emmer claims “we don’t need more laws,” yet he supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage (Source: http://www.emmerforgovernor.com/issues/socialvalues/). “Apparently, Emmer does support more laws, after all—laws that reinforce his social agenda at others’ expense,” Drury says.
“Minnesotans are compassionate people. They want to do whatever they can to prevent another death like Justin Aaberg’s. They don’t want other parents to have to do what Tammy Aaberg did—bury her child.”